Dear Jacqui, My son is nearly 4 years old and can’t say certain sounds in words e.g. ‘k’ and ‘g’. He has just started saying ‘s’ at the beginning of words but it disappears again in conversations. Please could you tell me more?

Sometimes speech sound difficulties are related to problems with hearing, so it is best to have this checked. The sounds you mention: /k/ and /g/ are both said at the back of the throat. These are usually fronted to /t/ and /d/ respectively i.e. so the child says ‘tar’ for ‘car’. Your child can now make /s/ at the beginning of words but not in conversations. The progression of developing sounds is similar to going up a staircase. The child starts at the bottom and has to progress up each step individually to the top. The steps or levels that the child needs to achieve in order are as follows e.g. learning /k/:

  • I know my sound (I can hear the difference between /k/ and /t/)
  • I can say my sound (I can make a good /k/ )
  • I can say /k/ at the beginning of a word
  • I can say /k/ at the end of a word
  • I can say /k/ in the middle of a word
  • I can say /k/ in a phrase
  • I can say /k/ in a sentence
  • I can say /k/ all the time in conversations

I recommend that your child is seen by a Speech and Language therapist for an assessment and therapy to help with choosing the sounds and levels to work on.